• Do You Stop to Stretch Your Back?

    Rather than stopping to smell the roses at the beginning of this new year (even though Chattanooga is a great place for that!), why not stop to stretch your back? More specifically, do a full back stretch?

    The full back stretch is often part of a yoga set or chiropractic pain relief routine. Since you’re probably trying to achieve a “new year, new you” right now, throw in the full back stretch to maintain a healthy spine.

    What is it again?

    There are many stretches and poses you can strike that stretch the back. But when it comes to maintaining your core, your flexibility, and preventing back pain, well, the full back stretch covers it all. If you live in the Chattanooga area, you probably know that many yoga studios are waiting for you to come in. Well, take advantage of them and go on in to learn the full back stretch. Ask your Chattanooga chiropractor about it as well (or any chiropractor, really). He may be able show you how to do a version that utilizes standard gym equipment. No matter where you perform the full back stretch (at home, at the gym, at the yoga studio), just make sure you do it on a regular basis to reap the benefits.

    How do I do it?

    There are many variations on this stretch. We’ve found three for you to try at home: a yoga pose, a flexibility training stance, and an office version.

    For the yoga pose , lay face down on a yoga mat. Lay out your arms in front of you, resting them at a 90 degree angle at the elbows. Push up on your lower arms to thrust your upper body upward. Allow your tummy to sink into the mat as you look at the ceiling. Hold for 15 seconds once you feel a gentle pull in your back.

    For the flexibility stance , you’re going to do the opposite of the yoga pose. Lay on your back and bring your knees to your chest. Place your fingers under your knees and pull your legs in tighter for a more complete stretch. Roll back until right before your head touches the ground. Repeat this roll 10-15 times. We suggest you also use a yoga mat for this one to provide cushion for your spine during the roll.

    And for the office version , we’re giving you an easy stretch: simply lean forward from your office chair! Lean forward as far as you can, hugging your knees or touching your toes. Keep your head down and neck relaxed. Hold this position for 20 seconds. Walk back up your legs with your hands until you return to a natural seated position, and repeat three times.

    What are the benefits?

    Finally, we talk about why it’s good to do this thing! Since this stretch is, well, a stretch, it’s not primarily about muscle building or toning. But that’s ok—it still functions to support the spine. According to Active.com , this stretch and others like it serve to build strength in the lower back muscles. The reason we endorse this stretch is because it triggers the muscular “girdle” surrounding your spine, supporting it so it can remain in its natural position. The full back stretch forces muscles and connective tissue to engage and hold the spine in place. Don’t want back pain to ruin your year? Do a full back stretch!

    Do you do a daily full back stretch?

    The full back stretch is where it’s at for keeping the spine in place. Whether you perform it in a Chattanooga yoga studio, at a Chattanooga gym, or even in a Chattanooga office, the full back stretch will help you keep that back from going out.

    Do you have a daily stretch routine to get your muscles ready for the day? Is the full back stretch part of it? Keep us informed about your journey to achieving a regular full back stretch in the comment box below. We’ll respond soon!

  • Forgiveness Is what We Need…To Stay Healthy?

    Yes, you read that right. Forgiveness really does have something to do with how healthy you stay in the long term no matter where you live—whether here in Chattanooga or all the way out on the west coast. You’ve read our post about smiling being good for your health , maybe? Well, it’s kind of like that.

    Forgiveness can help you in lots of ways—it’s not just a nice Bible theory you learned about in Sunday school at Calvary Chapel Chattanooga. Let’s look at some of the ways forgiveness helps your heart, your immune system, even your sleep.

    Forgive from the Heart

    It all comes down to blood pressure. Apparently anger spikes the heart rate, and long-term anger—a grudge—will keep you tense on a daily basis. In this informative article , the author reports a study finding that in married couples , when one forgave the other, both parties had a decrease in blood pressure. It’s something you might find happening at the Chattanooga Bible Institute counseling center.

    In this Johns Hopkins research article , Dr. Karen Swartz claims that “there is an enormous physical burden to being hurt and disappointed.” Anger leads to stress, which always taxes the heart muscle. It takes a lot of energy to stay angry—energy that raises your blood pressure.

    Avoid a Cold by Letting Go

    This benefit of forgiveness may sound far fetched, but there is documented evidence that forgiveness can actually boost the immune system. A study working with HIV patients found that after forgiving someone who had hurt them, these patients had higher CD4 cell percentages (considered positive for the immune system) than those in the study who had not forgiven someone.

    Are you fighting the flu this winter? Having a hard time keeping your nasal passages clear? Rack your brain for someone you’ve been avoiding and consciously choose to let go of your anger toward them. Chances are your cold will clear up faster. And who doesn’t want that? (If not, you might want to stop by the Chattanooga Urgent Care !)

    Sleep Like a Baby

    Another desirable result of forgiveness is its positive effect on sleep. The real benefit of forgiveness is on overall health, but if you think about, this inevitably will lead to better sleep. When your stress levels drop, you don’t lie awake at night trying to figure out how to control the person you’re angry at, or trying to figure out how to fix your negative feelings. This study found that when “the victim relinquishes ideas of revenge, and feels less hostile, angry, or upset about the experiences,” they are going to feel better overall. Obviously you can sleep better without all those bad feelings about people. If you struggle to fall asleep and stay asleep, the culprit might just be anger. Give forgiveness a try.

    How do you forgive?

    All these benefits of forgiveness sound nice, but how does one perform such an act when you feel that justice needs to be served? You can take it step-by-step like in this article , but mostly you’re going to have to work through your negative emotions. Grab a neutral friend and talk it out. You could even book a session at the Chattanooga Counseling and Meditation Center . You might try making forgiveness a New Year’s resolution—and then a daily habit!

    What are your forgiveness tips? Do you have a relationship that you have to maintain a running “forgiveness tab” so that things don’t get too tense? Tell us about it! Our readers would love to hear.